Reprinted from Smirking Chimp
If conservatives really want to do away with "wasteful" and "overly bureaucratic" social services in the US -- services like Medicaid, Social Security and food stamps -- there's an easy alternative.
It's simple. It encourages personal responsibility. And it will do away with our current mess of programs that make up our social safety net.
All we have to do is guarantee every person a universal, and unconditional, minimum income.
It sounds unusual. It sounds like we'd just be paying people not to work. And why would anyone choose to work if they're receiving FREE money already?
That's the knee-jerk response -- but it doesn't hold up in real-world experiments.
A paper published in 2013 looked at two groups in Uganda: one group that received a no-strings attached grant equal to their annual income -- about $380 per person -- and a control group that received no grant.
What did the unemployed youth do when they were "paid not to work"?
The group that received the grant worked on average an extra 17 hours in comparison to the control group. They showed a 41 percent increase in earnings four years after receiving the grant.
They invested in skills and businesses. Individuals were 65 percent more likely to practice a skilled trade two years after receiving the grants.
Researchers have seen similar results from other experiments with unconditional income. In Kenya incomes increased by 33 percent and assets increased by 58 percent just one year after people received an unconditional $513 grant.
Those researchers also found that the grant reduced hunger and that the recipients were better off in terms of psychological well-being.
Which just makes sense. A guaranteed income lets households make a real budget and frees people from focusing only on where their next meal will come from.
Those are numbers that show that a guaranteed minimum income promotes economic productivity and real growth from the base of the market.
But those are just examples in the developing world. What about evidence from the world's developed countries?
Well, the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands will run its own experiment with basic minimum incomes.